Coroners – what do they do?
Published on: Monday, September 27, 2021
By: K Krishnan
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DAILY the Ministry of Health reports the number of people who died on that date. You would have also seen various organisations who feel that the figure reported may not be correct. Some argue that the death rate is too alarming to believe.  

The MOH says that the figures have taken into account the backlog of deaths.  Often you hear “Brought in Dead” meaning before even the bodies reached the hospital, the patient was already dead.  

Of the total rate of deaths, does it include only Covid-19 patients or does it include death due to others causes. 

With so many technicalities involved, keeping count of deaths is a very important task not only for MOH in Malaysia but also the World Health Organisation.  

There must be trained people who are in charge of deaths – especially when you have an epidemic such as Covid-19. 

The death rates are very essential for policy makers, lawmakers, MOH and the Government.  

Who are Coroners? 

A coroner is a government or judicial official who is empowered to conduct or order an inquest into the manner or cause of death, and to investigate or confirm the identity of an unknown person who has been found dead within the coroner’s jurisdiction. 

Coroners are authorised to direct activities such as autopsies, pathological and toxicological analyses, and inquests relating to the investigation of deaths occurring within a legal jurisdiction to determine cause of death or to fix responsibility for accidental, violent, or unexplained deaths.

What do Coroners do?
  • They perform medicolegal examinations and autopsies, conducting preliminary examinations of the body to identify victims, locate signs of trauma, and identify factors that would indicate time of death.
  • They Inquire into the cause, manner, and circumstances of human deaths and establish the identities of deceased persons.
  • They complete death certificates, including the assignment of cause and manner of death.
  • They collect and document any pertinent medical history information.
  • They arrange for the next of kin to be notified of deaths.

What knowledge do they need? 
  • Knowledge of the structure and content of the English/BM language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Medicine and Dentistry  – Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Customer and Personal Service  – Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Law and Government  – Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Education and Training  – Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

What Skills do they require? 
  • Critical Thinking  – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening – Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing  –  Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience

Work Activities

As part of their day to day job, they need to get Information. They need to Observe, receive and obtain information from all relevant sources.

They need to Documenting/Record Information. They are required to Enter, transcribe, record, store, or maintain information in written or electronic form.

As part of their job they need to Communicate with Persons Outside the Organisation.  

They need to representing their organisation to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by e-mail.

They need to Communicate with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates. They need to Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

They need to make Making Decisions and Solve Problems.  After Analyzing information and evaluating results they need to choose the best solution and solve problems.

Further information 

Students interested in this field can gain a lot of information from the mass media. Many causes of deaths are reported in the mass media.  For instance, not long ago a fireman died during the course of duty in Shah Alam. However, till todate the case is still not solved.  

They say that dead men tell no tales, but a competent forensic pathologist can tell us how a man died: the cause of death, both the good and bad effects of the treatment he received, the reasons behind the symptoms shown near the end of his life, and any discrepancies between the pre-mortem and post-mortem results. Facts do not lie. The operative word here is “competent”. There are many more such cases. Please read and explore. 

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